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Kurdish Rebels Halt Turkey Pullout

  • VOA News

Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) fighters rest around a fire in northern Iraq in this May 14, 2013, file photo.

Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) fighters rest around a fire in northern Iraq in this May 14, 2013, file photo.

Kurdish rebels say they have stopped pulling fighters out of Turkey, blaming the Turkish government for failing to push forward with reforms.

The Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, made the announcement Monday through the pro-Kurdish Firat news agency. PKK officials said despite the move, they still intend to abide by a March cease-fire agreement.

The PKK first agreed to withdraw fighters from Turkey in May, moving them to safe havens in Iraq. In exchange, the Turkish government was expected to enact a series of reforms aimed at improving the rights of Kurds.

Turkey's deputy prime minister dismissed the PKK statement, telling the Associated Press Monday that Turkey is still determined to take steps to end the long-running conflict.

PKK officials have called for Turkey to release PKK activists, soften anti-terrorism laws, change some electoral laws and allow Kurdish children to be educated in Kurdish.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been working on a package of reforms but has yet to bring it before the parliament.

Last month, Erdogan accused the PKK of failing to make good on their pledge to withdraw fighters, saying only about 20 percent of the rebel forces had retreated to Iraq.

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